These days, it feels like nearly every day brings a life-changing event as the country simultaneously navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, hurricane season and wildfire season. The West Coast, Colorado, and Montana are all currently battling record-breaking fires amid summer heat waves. In California alone, over 2 million acres have burned since the start of the current fire season.
With wildfire incidents on the rise and ahead of Fire Prevention Week next week, I thought it might be helpful to discuss how first responders are leveraging new technology to battle an increasingly difficult and complex fire season. Here is a glimpse into some of the ways Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) can benefit fire departments and the communities they serve by allowing them to react faster and with more flexibility in the face of unexpected challenges.
Why Cloud Is Critical to Modern Emergency Preparedness
A community’s preparedness in the event of a disaster can have ripple effects on its economic resiliency and long-term livability. It can mean the difference between manageable property damage and sustained impact. For first responders, the ability to juggle the staff management, inspections, and permitting needed to maintain long-term public safety while protecting communities from immediate danger is crucial.
This can be a huge challenge for fire departments given the large number of tasks at hand, especially if performed manually. Tracking and scheduling regular inspections and managing operations across multiple divisions and specialties can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. What’s more, departments are often dealing with these difficulties without modern technology or adequate resources in funding, training, and staffing. This challenge calls for improved operations and technology. Cloud tools can help.
How Fire Departments Can Harness the Cloud to Improve Public Safety
Leveraging modern SaaS technology can help fire departments streamline everyday tasks so they can focus on what is most important — the safety of their communities. Here are some of the ways moving to the cloud can help:
- Improves Data Sharing: Using cloud technology allows fire departments to easily share reports and inspection and permitting data with other agencies and the public. In doing so, it increases productivity, simplifies staff training, and minimizes person-to-person interactions, mitigating public health risk for both citizens and staff during COVID-19. By improving data sharing and enabling transparent permit reviews between other departments and citizens, the Moreno Valley Fire Department, which serves the second most populous county in Southern California, saw a 95% reduction in labor and increase in productivity. The department was able to reduce the hours its Hazard Abatement process takes from 1,144 hours and four full-time inspectors, down to 58 hours across three full-time inspectors. The entire process went from taking two months to only three days.
- Increases Productivity: Leveraging SaaS technology increases fire department efficiency in plan review, inspections, and permit processing activities, enabling fire departments to do more with less. The ability to access data from a mobile device also provides inspectors with access to real-time inspection data in the field, saving time, reducing errors, and helping them perform more strategic inspections in their work day.
- Generates More Revenue: Processing online applications and payments allows the fire departments to immediately collect fee revenue as well as reduce operational costs by more than 80%. With many government departments currently facing budget cuts during COVID-19, moving to the cloud can help bridge revenue gaps.
- Improves Citizen Satisfaction: Moving processes online makes it easier for the public to comply with codes and regulations without experiencing the frustrations of outdated processes, improving satisfaction and also fostering community growth.
The Cloud Keeps Fire Departments of All Sizes Aware and Ahead
While previously, only larger fire departments had the scale and resources to leverage the cloud, today, SaaS technology is driving innovation and agility for departments of every size. Accela’s out-of-the-box Civic Application for Fire Prevention provides fire departments with a powerful cloud-based tool to manage permitting and inspection processes, keep up with changing regulations, and better prepare communities for unexpected incidents in time. The solution helps modernize and streamline Fire Prevention programs, inspections, and regulatory activities, improve visibility for property owners, and keep departments on track toward their goals so fire staff can focus on protecting the community, not pushing paperwork. It comes in three levels: Essentials, Extended and Enterprise, to give fire departments of any size a solution that works for their budget and needs.
To learn more about how leveraging the cloud can help fire departments improve public safety and react quickly to unexpected crises, register for Accela’s webinar, “Next-Level Advanced Operations,” on Wednesday, September 30th. Learn more about Accela’s Fire Prevention Solution.